Toxicological analysis of South African paraffin.
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There is little information available on the relationship between the chemical composition and toxicity of South African paraffin. The aim of this study was therefore to determine an association, if any, between the chemical composition and toxicity of South African paraffin. The objectives were to analyze the chemical composition and potential toxicity of paraffin using an A549 lung cell line. There were two phases to the study. In the first phase of the study the chemical composition of seven (7) paraffin samples was tested at accredited InterTek Testing Services (ITS) according to SABS protocol. In the second phase of the study toxicology studies were conducted using the MTI and Annexin assays to establish the toxicity of the samples. The experiments included dissolving paraffm in a constant volume of ethanol. Results of the chemical analysis of paraffin from local refineries indicated that the major components were aliphatic hydrocarbons (>75%, v/v), olefins (1-8%, v/v), aromatics (1-20%, v/v) and sulphur «0.1%, v/v). Cytotoxicity tests indicated that there were significant (p<0.001) differences in the level of toxicity of the paraffin samples. The chemical composition or formulation was the single most important factor, which determined the degree of toxicity. The toxicity of paraffin dissolved in ethanol was significantly (p<0.001) more toxic when compared to that of undissolved paraffin. Paraffin samples also induced apoptosis and necrosis. It is therefore recommended that the chemical composition of paraffin must be standardized to a consistent less toxic product to ensure the safety of the South African public.